I met Heather years ago as we were in the Junior League of Annapolis,Inc. together. We had always been pleasant with one another, but I had this preconceived notion that someone like Heather, wouldn't need someone like me in their life. In my eyes, she was the epitomy of health and wellness. She was/is always put together, surrounded by friends and very busy in life. I've always known that Heather was a runner, she's in incredible shape and she had invited me before to run with her. I was telling her this week about a pivotal moment in our friendship.
It was 2011 and Heather had casually asked me if I was going to an annual JLA Tea event. I never miss it, so I told that I would be there. She said, "Save me a seat". I thought, "Isn't that sweet? She's trying to be nice to me." Well, the event day came and I met with my friends from my Provisional class and we had been seated at a table together. I did not save Heather a seat because I honestly thought she was just "being nice". Why on earth would she ask ME to save her seat?!? She has a million friends in the JLA. Right? Well, she showed up to the event and there I was with my friends at our table and she came over to me and said, "I thought you were going to save me a seat?" She smiled so brightly and was so polite, sounding as if she was almost joking about it, but I could see in her eyes she was truly disappointed. I felt like the biggest asshole ever.
2012 she asked me again if I was going to the Tea, and I said, "Yes! I'll save you a seat!" and this time, I made sure to get there early, save a seat and her and I had the BEST conversation through the entire event. I learned that she's super sincere, very friendly, takes 100% interest in what you have to say and not for one moment did I feel like she was "just being nice" she was REAL. My father had just passed away, and I had mentioned it to her at the event. It had been a very sensitive time in my life, many didn't recognize the complicity of his passing and I think people didn't know how to give comfort and/or support, so they did nothing. She recognized that despite the relationship and whatever turmoil or animosity that was between my father and I, a loss of a parent is devastating and the aftermath of his passing wasn't going to be easy for me or my family. She invited me to join her for a run that week to just talk and get my mind clear, and I had enjoyed her company so much at the tea, that despite the fact that I was NOT a runner (at least not like she was) I just couldn't pass on the opporunity to spend more time with her.
So, I met her for what she called an "easy" run. 27 degrees outside, ice on the ground and 6 miles later, I thought I was going to collapse! I couldn't walk without pain for several days, but I was completely hooked! I never missed an opportunity to run with Heather after that. We ran together several times a week for over 6 months. She and our friend Kathy trained me to run a 1/2 marathon together. She came into my life at a time I needed a friend the most and she proved to be just about the best friend anyone could ask for. I'm so thankful that I realized my mistake that first Tea and made the point to sit with her the following year. I'm only sad that it took me so long to connect with her and build this friendship.
I've never known anyone to love so openly and without reservation. She's the friend that walks in when the rest of the world walks out. She gives it to you straight, but also respects your perspective and feelings. She's a sister in every sense of the word, other than by birth.
Best friends are family you get to choose and I'm so thankful that God placed her in my life. I honestly don't know what or where I'd be without her!